SARS-Cov-2 and other RNA viruses are formidable natural foes of humanity. To fight them, we must understand them better, especially their main component, RNA. Although we can sequence viral RNAs to learn their chemical structure, many details of their function depend on their 3D shape and how this shape helps them fit into a cell’s molecular engines. These structural details were difficult to obtain by traditional methods, but we are now making them visible through a rapidly improving technique called cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM). Cryo-EM has now solved the structure of many RNAs, including important regions of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s RNA. In this lecture, I will display some of these revolutionary images of viral RNA and explain how we can use this knowledge to combat these lethal pathogens.
The lecture is one hour long, followed by Q&A.